tv Call-in with Elaine Weiss The Womans Hour CSPAN October 10, 2019 8:47pm-9:34pm EDT
checkbook tv.org for schedule. elaine white is the author o >> and the author of this book and august 1920 tell us about i it. >> this is a sleepy southern city in the middle of summer the legislature usually in recess. it is the time when you sit on tiyour porch and for several weeks in the summer of 1920 because tennessee might be the last inn deciding state that women across the country and
then it's all coming down. >> how many women were in america at that time? >> about 26 million women and as we know for african-american women and native american women but jim crow laws in the south bay denied the votes that 27 million women the politicians are worried about it there was an election the
governor isct very worried he is up for reelection so it was a political free-for-all to the legislature in nashville spin before we get to the characters involved. >> in fact what i write about of the participants in this political bellow right in their memoirs how hot it is and especially for the women coming down into filibuster all thosee things. so i started my research in the summer of 2013 i want to
feel that bearing down on me and i did and how it surrounds you without any air-conditioning and wearing 10 pounds of close. so it helps me to understand how uncomfortable they could be. >> so that we go on for seven decades to market from the first organized meeting in 1948 is not the first time it was discussed that for various
reasons and 72 years so for the reasons i explained in the book women were working at the state and federal level they finally got a federal amendment passed in and finally inld 1819 and participating in a very different way they have ever participated before they narrowly pass it three force of the states have to ratify which is 36 states that were in the union at that time and 35 have ratified by the summer of 1920 just one more is needed and for various reasons it turns out tennessee is the best hope for the suffragist.
and to reject the amendment as not ratified but it was clear there were two other southern states in play with north carolina and florida. north carolina rejected it and then florida refused to call a special session. so i came down to tennessee and that was a dangerous place to think the entire enfranchisement of the population of the united states because tennessee was southern, a lot of ambivalence and opposition to the women's vote.
so they said to the leaders we can do it come down and help us so the national leaders come down and you see a fascinating ballet between the different wings of the suffrage movement and working at that opposition of corporate and political and religious opposition leaders of those movements. and then women's of different persuasion. it is free-for-all and it is a fascinating microcosm of the cultural and political and even moral questions of the moment. >> who is carrie and how did she become the leader quick. >> she is the leader of the suffrage movement.
>> i got my movements mixed up. i'm so sorry. who was she. >> what is so interesting as i was shocked. i'm not a suffrage follower i was studying this for 40 years but when i encounter the concept there were women organized all over the country to oppose women's suffrage especially the federal amendment i was shocked. i did not comprehend that women could oppose their sisters getting the vote. but one of the characters that ilo followed is very well educated and a dean of a small
college and a professor and she comes from a very traditional conservative background in southern tennessee and father is a a baptist or methodist minister and she grows up in a household where the idea of women moving into the domestic sphere publicly just was not accepted and she really feared the pillow of feminism so she sees that as unnatural she also has religious opposition and racial opposition because one of the things we encounter in the southern states especially in the last battle is the idea there is opposition because black women would be given the vote by constitutional law and in some
of those states that was not an accepted political part so they fight against it. >> so josephine is anti. >> and then you have a savvy political operator. >> she's a very interesting woman she's also aided by the national anti- suffrage leaders n who come down from new york and washington and boston to help her. so she is leading the tennesseee contingents that she is being assisted by strong and well-funded women who opposing it and have been in other states. so she is a little bit of friction with the national leaders who think they know best how to run the campaign
in tennessee. >> described how she kept her cool at the hotel. >> josephine was called into service mid july 1920 they realized tennessee will liberate the legislature will be called so she gets the summons to come to nashville pfrom her home and say we need atu. come immediately the suffragist are coming. so she travels by train to nashville and they arrange for her to stay in the fanciest hotel which is the hermitage. and she's not used to this type of luxury. of course it is not air-conditioned and it's very
hot and even hotter than usual in july. so she spends the first night in the bathtub running cold water and using the telephone to call her colleagues and to send telegrams come to nashville we have to oppose this amendment. come quickly. she does this from the bathroom. she writes about this in her memoir and i actually checked with the hotel if she would have been in a bathtub or a shower butav yet she was. >> carrie is a fascinating leader. eshe is the daughter of an iowa farm girl and becomes a teacher is widowed twice and
susan b anthony was a very good mentor and she saw women with talent that could be future leaders of the s movement and she trained them. and they would accompany her on the campaign trail. she was going across the country constantly to get interest and enthusiasm for suffrage. she sees carrie and she has the fire and the logistical hemind to lead the movement she literally is anointed as susan anthony is aging she becomes president for a while and then
she comes back in 1960 and says the allies have struck and then she takes over as the master strategist back at this time the suffrage movement is split now they are fighting so long a third generation has emerged of younger women and now we see this today that the ty things have always been. so now with a phd actually it was alice. . ..
and the daughter of west tennessee wants to be a lawyer and is told when you don't become lawyers and joins the suffrage movement then gets impatient and joins the party and becomes the head of it in tennessee so those are the we follow, the establishment of 2 million women who are affiliated with the national american suffrage association organization. she comes down from new york to run the strategy for getting the federal amendment through. sue white who is the lieutenant
is running the women's party so we have the two women's organizations working separately and sometimes at odds with each other and then a whole constellation of men and politicians and corporate lobbyists. we don't think about that, but they were a big part of this equation gathering in nashville. >> we are going to continue to talk to you mean and want tofi make sure you know to participate if you have questions (202)748-8200, for those in east and central time zone (202)748-8201 if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones. go ahead and call and we will get to those in just aet minute. josephine pearson, sue white
meet each other at the hotel all at once. >> i don't have documentation of that moment the wings of the suffrage movement headquarters, the anti-suffragists into their headquarters and the lobbyists and many of the legislators. i don't have, and believe me, i've looked, the confirmation altogether but they were certainly bouncing off of each other in the hallways. she is in her suite for most of the time so she is a lightning rod and outsider so she isn't
allowed to be in public >> were they helpful in your research? >> guest: it has been beautifully restored and many of the same elements are there. at the mailbox wathe mailbox wad built in the 1900. the most luxurious plan. when i stayed there for the dedication of the suffrage monument, and i was actually just there last week helping to kick off the centennial, they put me in a room that is truly a throw.
heard before that they wanted to counteract the earlier. is that true? they wanted to counteract the photos black men. >> guest: that is true. there was the sense in the south especially that other places that there were more whites womn than black women who could vote. of course they could be prevented by voting with intimidation and literacy requirements, that there were white men and you encounter that
in mind that end with congressmen and senators and legislators in the southern states and they do say this will give my wife, my daughter the vote. it's one of the uncomfortable racial aspects of the movement that we need to understand. >> host: the next three callers are all men so let's hear what they have to say. >> with the suffrage movement and temperance movement i understand susan b. anthony was close friends with and of course [inaudible]
>> guest: yes, indeed that was an interesting intersection. in the 1870s and 80s was that christian temperance movement that begins to organize and they were advocates of temperance and we have to understand islam is a moral question but for others, temperance was a question about domestic violence because women had very few legal ways to address an abusive husband or father. police were not interested. they couldn't bring them to court and so by spending it at the source so to speak, it becomes an answer to this domestic violence problem. for a long time.
prohibition is alreadydy in ef effect. and by the way the lobby was trying to oppose suffrage in all the states and federal level because they don't want women to get the vote because they fear that they will once prohibition of prohibition going to be enforced quite so stringently and so they were looking to a congress and legislature that were not going to enforce prohibition they were fighting
to stop the federal amendment and there's a wonderful sweep which was the liquor lobby's attempt to persuade legislators that they shouldn't ratify so it was a speakeasy for the hermitage hotel dispensing liquor 24/7 and you have legislators bouncing off the walls singing keep the home fires burning and perhaps helping the liquor industry not be affected as strongly by prohibition. >> host: this is 1920, three months away, two months a little bit from the election.
in my part in the story of the suffrage and anti-suffrage once the presidential candidates to support them. they are both from ohio and also running with a young franklin roosevelt as the vice presidential partner. and then we have warren g. harding running from ohio and they are both being courted and press. good morning, sir.
i just wanted to pass on from my late grandmother who is a part of the whole suffrage movement out of minnesota back to get the vote she started a private organization and at that time a lot of the women couldn't own property or cash a check or anything. so they had a private company which nobody else knew. the guys didn't know this. they would collect money to send girls to school and i just wanted tont pass that on. >> thank you for sharing that. >> one of the great things since
i've been touring the country talking about my book and the suffrage movement, i've been to minnesota and there was vibrant grassroots activism and a scandinavian suffrage movement who would go to suffrage pervades in their native costumes. we think of it as maybe susan b. anthony and we really don't have a sense of if was. they were organizing and one of the things about the centennial, which we are now entering the centennial here so august, 2020 will be the anniversary o commo. one of the great things is
exploring more research level. so not to get all the voices into the story like the black women's club, like the church records. all these places that told the story of ordinary women who really make a big sacrifice, they risk their reputations, they risk being condemned from the pulpit >> host: from the women's hour to imagine the enfranchisement
of the american women like the evolutionary step in the gradual march of progress with the wives, daughters and sisters and the womann adds politely without much drama the votes for the women was achieved. that's not how it happened. next called jim in ann arbor, michigan. >> it's difficult to understand you.
n speaker or a cell phone, speak very clearly into your phone. thank you. >> caller: how they evolve after the amendment was passed, i'm not going to vote on principle or did they ultimately evil tax >> thank you very much. >> that is a wonderful question and i do deal with that in the after word of the book because the result is after the tratification when the women tt fought so hard to support this amendment that would give the vote to all women they take advantage of their political power and they've learned to organize. so, while the suffragists sort of dissipate and go off in their different directions of course
there are legacy organizations of the suffragists. they form the league of women voters which is apt 100 years still going strong all across the country. they formed the draft of the equal rights amendment which has been not ratified after 96 years. it was introduced in 1923. they organize and use their newfoundir electoral power and organizational skills to oppose certain legislation in congress that they feel is a government overreach. they call it socialist, if that sounds familiar.e they accuse them of still supporting maternal health,
legislation, other kinds of legislation. they evolved into the anti-communist activists of the mid-20 century. you may see them again working through training organizations, advocacy organizations and we see them coming into the mccarthy era and we see them again emerge in the 1970s and 80s as the eagle forum which was phyllis schlafly's organization. so, we have conservative women who have learned to harness their political power. and i thinkow the still see the product of that kind of organization. so, yes they did use. now stephanie pierson said she could not after fighting this for so long so she devised a strange and clever scheme which
is she would tell a man in her hometown how she wanted to vote and he would go into vote for her she had strong opinions but let a man vote for her. >> thank you for taking my call. between the abortion issue in america and the suffrage issue as it played out in the early 19 hundreds. >> guest: that is a very interesting question. i'm not sure that i see a direct
comparison, but again many of them were also feminist and they were working not just for the vote, but the vote as a tool to be able to be represented in congress and in the same legislature to make sure that women had rights which they had been denied and many of them have to do with agency, with being able to make decisions on their own so you have to understand when the suffrage movement begins in the 19 century not only women couldn't vote, a married womanou couldn't own property committed and have custodial rights to her children if she divorced, she could testify in a court of law. she couldn't serve on a jury.
so for the rights of the decision-making in her own and n agency i think has some thparallels but it gets more complicated than that. i hesitate to make a direct comparison, but i think that again women working for their own rights to make decisions about whether it is their body or of legislators is part of the whole larger idea of suffrage as a tool. >> host: how controversial was this quote? >> guest: when congress finally got around to voting, in
the house i think it was a handful of votes margin. you would think by 1920 it would have been okay, women are equal to men in a political sense, let's get this done, but it wasn't. and in the senate, the house actually vote on it and the senate refuses. finally it passes so the idea for his time had come forces aligned it was not true. it was still very controversial and president woodrow wilson had come around very arduously and slowly to supporting the idea of the suffrage amendment and
federal amendment said he does support it, but that is what i described in the boodescribe in. succumb it was still tough. it wasn't an easy road for the suffragists even in the 1920s were seven decades after the first vote.he >> host: a call from maryland. hello. >> caller: i just have a couple of questions. the fact that in order to pass the amendment you need three fourths of the states and the votes and i think women voted about 31%. do you think men were more interested than women and the second thing there is more for the protection law banned the party with a small group for the limited work and power and things like that.hi
>> guest: to answer the first question, it is true that in the first election in 1920, and remember the amendment is ratified only tens weeks before the election so there was a big rush to register women but it couldn't fall below the accomplished and in some places like georgia they refused to extend the deadlines that have passed. they refused to because they didn't want black women to vote and so only again as you said about one in three eligible women voteden in 1920 and she ws asked about that and said you fought for all these years. how come only one in three women voted and she said you know, voting is something that you learn and get used to doing and women just are not accustomed to doing it just. it takes longer than i think she
expected. it takes about 40 years and that is to the participation equal of death in 1988 surpasses and significantly more women vote to ban methan men in today's electt the national level. the second question -- [inaudible] >> guest: i am not. >> there were other issues involved in the women's party. >> i think that we are talking here about the equal rights amendment, and it's true not all women who've been suffragists supported the equal rights amendment because one of the things that has been t accomplished in the decades before 1920 was that they had protection laws for the women in
the industry so women are working in factories at this time and sweatshops and they had passed the kind of legislation that said you can only work ten hours or 12 hours not 20 hours as some employers force women to do and you can't left more than 25 pounds. this was a protection for women's health and part of it was the unions whichhi had emerd so they fear that it might jeopardize those special protections that they had already one in congress so there was actually a disagreement among even feminist women about whether the equal rights amendment would be b beneficial. now this is also still the rivalry between. and eleanor roosevelt doesn't support it.
so it's a very interesting history of the amendment and you are right that there were issues of protection but that is the equal rights amendment. >> chandler in sedona arizona you are on next, go ahead. my question as to what degree do they tell of the sisters and daughters to play a role in the suffrage movement? >> guest: men played a large role and they were very important and supportive champions and there is a great book that came out a year or two ago called suffragette and it's about the league of men that is important so of course only men could make decisions. men had to be convinced.
they were on me in the legislature, the state legislature, so only except by 1917, 1918 county only woman elected to congress processors only one and when the referendum at the state level or the ratification it is only men making these decisions and so having male allies coming and we see some very brave male allies step up in my story and so yes men w were important. >> executive producer is the secretary of state, p hillary clinton. she read the book and found it a story we should know and that
speaks to us today. if of the teams arrive at the buck and voting rights or women's rights or dark money of politics it all gets talked about and so she says let's bring this story to a wider audience and that is what we are doing. >> how do you react when she says that she wants to be involved in your bookmarks >> i was thrilled and she has been a wonderful and supportive partner. >> and the women's hour is now on thes paperback. here is tcheers to cover the grs to win the vote. thanks for your time. >> lovely to be with you. you can see what programs are available every weekend. weekend. watch top nonfiction authors and books along with coverage of events, fairs and festivals and interviews on policy, technology and more. plus our signature programs in depth and "after words."
for john podesta and others on the campaign. they tried to infiltrate our system. they put out false information and then they were very active on social media trying to pit americans against each other over domestic issues whether it is race or immigration or guns and what have you. and they're holding is to discredit our democracy, to cause people in this country to hate one another into turn one against one another and to try to weaken us from within. >> sunday at nine eastern on book tv on c-span2.